Decision-Making

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The Five Bestselling MIT SMR Articles of 2019

  • Read Time: 3 min 

This year’s bestselling articles examine perennial challenges for leaders and organizations. From predicting how technology will impact markets and outcomes to creating successful frameworks for strategic decision-making, this collection of articles gives managers practical insights for leading in an age of uncertainty and disruption.

Overcoming Cultural and Technical Debt

Companies take on debts beyond just monetary ones that can be just as heavy as the greatest financial liabilities. Technical and cultural debt accrue as a byproduct of the decisions and investments companies make along their growth journeys, and both can weigh companies down. In this week’s episode of Three Big Points, Stanford’s Bob Sutton takes us inside ride-sharing giant Uber, an ideal case study.

12 Essential Leadership Insights

  • Read Time: 3 min 

Leading teams and organizations today means honing strategic and digital skills, hiring and mentoring diverse employees, and being agile and adaptive in the face of constant change. With this collection of MIT Sloan Management Review articles, readers will benefit from decades of research from academics and practitioners on the skills, processes, and frameworks that can help managers lead through times of uncertainty, change, and disruption.

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How Shared Responsibility Can Shape a Compelling Vision

  • Read Time: 6 min 

Teams perform better and are more likely to achieve the leader’s vision if they feel a shared sense of responsibility for the outcome. By communicating their rationale about how to balance priorities, a leader can help their team make decisions aligned with the collective vision even when the leader is not present. In effect, this involves scaling a sense of responsibility and creating a culture that shares the same values.

How Previous Generations Influence Our Decisions

  • Read Time: 6 min 

Folktales and stories from our ancestors were designed to keep new listeners from repeating the mistakes of the past. But in an era when employees move between companies at a faster pace than decades ago, leaving little time to transmit organizational mythology, are companies at risk of losing touch with the lessons of the past? In a time of great technological change, which demands reflection and clear corporate culture, this is a vital question.

“Out-Getting” Is the Next Great Baseball Strategy. Or Not.

In this episode of Counterpoints, the subject is baseball — specifically, the analytics-centered strategy for pitchers called out-getting, which focuses on pitchers’ efficiency rather than on when, how often, and how much they pitch. Will this practice transform baseball in the classic Moneyball tradition — or will it simply be an interesting tactic that teams sometimes use to gain a temporary advantage?

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How You Can Have More Impact as a People Analyst

In the messy real world of ambiguous evidence and contentious objectives, organizational decisions — especially those about the people you’re hiring, developing, managing, and trying to retain — usually hinge on relationships and trust. So if you work in people analytics, you must learn to traffic in that currency to make an impact. It’s not enough to be right. You also have to sell your model or idea. These tactics can help.

A Structured Approach to Strategic Decisions

Many decisions about strategy require that senior executives make evaluative judgments on the basis of extensive, complex information. Such work is prone to common errors, but a disciplined, sequential approach can mitigate those errors and improve the quality of both one-off and recurrent decisions in an array of business domains. The process described in this article is easy to learn, involves little additional work, and (within limits) leaves room for intuition.

Mapping Tom Brady’s Brain

ESPN’s Bryan Burke previews the 2019 Sloan Sports Analytics session on deep learning and quarterback decision-making. The ultimate goal: to understand how a quarterback processes information and to track the patterns their minds tend to follow.

What to Do When Industry Disruption Threatens Your Career

Volatility in an industry should concern not only the companies within it but also the people who work for them. To stay ahead of developments that may disrupt your professional life, you must make two evidence-based diagnoses: How volatile is your industry? And what explains the volatility? The answers will equip you to disrupt your own career preemptively.

Ethics as Conversation: A Process for Progress

  • Read Time: 5 min 

Most organizations can agree on what questions to consider before making a decision about marketing, finance, or operations. But many stumble when the issue has ethical consequences. Leaders need to define what set of questions they want to consider when confronted with an issue that has ethical implications. Seven basic questions can get them started.

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Leadership Lessons From Your Inner Child

Examining childhood traits such as boldness, experimentation, and resilience may help leaders access these qualities in service of their leadership roles. Rather than trying to learn how to be more creative or innovative, learning how not to lose the innate creativity and curiosity within us is more effective.

How to Get Others to Adopt Your Recommendation

When a business is growing fast, decisions can get lost in the fray — especially if it’s unclear that a decision even needs to be made. People in the workplace bring recommendations to four audiences: a manager or top executive (those who approve a recommendation), and peers or a broader set of stakeholders (those who execute a recommendation). To sell an idea and get others to take action, you have to understand what your particular audience needs to hear.

Why Teams Should Record Individual Expectations

To improve decision quality, risk management, and leadership development, organizations and teams should record individual expectations when making big group decisions. That may sound like a tall order, especially for a large organization. But interactive dashboards can make the process of gathering and analyzing everyone’s input much less cumbersome, and the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs.

Think Critically About the Wisdom of Experts

Leaders and managers must inevitably consult the analysis, advice, and research of people whose expertise exceeds their own in a variety of domains. Getting the most from that perspective means understanding precisely how to question the experts’ wisdom, no matter what form it takes. Eight specific lessons can help leaders and managers use others’ expertise to the greatest possible advantage in everyday business decisions.

The Challenge of Scaling Soft Skills

  • Read Time: 5 min 

We understand a lot about how to develop the “hard skills” of analysis, decision-making, and analytical judgment, but we know a great deal less about the genesis of “soft skills” like empathy, context sensing, collaboration, and creative thinking, which are becoming increasingly valuable in the workplace. Understanding the obstacles to developing these soft skills and then addressing those barriers is crucial for our schools, homes, and workplaces.

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